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Cochin

Today a sleepy, relaxing port town, Cochin was once a prosperous, cosmopolitan city built upon the spice trade. Throughout its long and tumultuous history, Cochin has been contested by a series of warring powers, from local Indian empires to the Dutch, the Portuguese and the English. Despite such tumult, Cochin remained a key destination for traders throughout the Malabar (southwest) Coast and the Indian Ocean, among them the Chinese, Syrians, Jews, and many more. Thankfully, Cochin, renamed Kochi after independence, has managed to preserve not only its small-town, quaint atmosphere, but also its beautiful colonial architecture, positioning it as one of India's leading tourist destinations in the south.
Today a sleepy, relaxing port town, Cochin was once a prosperous, cosmopolitan city built upon the spice trade. Throughout its long and tumultuous history, Cochin has been contested by a series of warring powers, from local Indian empires to the Dutch, the Portuguese and the English. Despite such tumult, Cochin remained a key destination for traders throughout the Malabar (southwest) Coast and the Indian Ocean, among them the Chinese, Syrians, Jews, and many more. Thankfully, Cochin, renamed Kochi after independence, has managed to preserve not only its small-town, quaint atmosphere, but also its beautiful colonial architecture, positioning it as one of India's leading tourist destinations in the south.

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"Jew" Town

Once home to Cochin’s large, thriving Jewish population, today the “Jew” Town area hosts a series of spice shops, antique stalls and souvenir stores. While most of Cochin’s Jewish inhabitants emigrated following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, many of their houses still stand – painted bright, cheerful colors and built along old world designs.

Cochin Bay

Visit Cochin’s famed bay, where Chinese fishing nets continue to be operated by hand. Get a brief but robust upper-body workout by helping fishermen operate these magnificently antiquated contraptions, with giant rocks used as counterweights. If you make an exceptionally good haul, you can buy fish straight from the men manning the net and have a hawker near the Dutch House (a few minutes walk away) fillet it on the spot.

Colonial Architecture

Explore the winding, narrow streets of Cochin, which sport a charming, unusual blend of colonial architecture and native aesthetics. Walk past houses with whitewashed stucco walls and tiled roofs, imposing forts with grand archways, and Catholic churches reminiscent of old Portugal – with prominent bell towers, columns, and high ceilings.

Cooking Class

Meet an affable and welcoming woman who is an expert chef in the Syrian-Christian culinary tradition; Remote Lands can arrange private cooking classes in her home for those interested in learning more about this cuisine.

Kerala Backwaters

After cruising to a delta with smaller canals, switch to a canoe, which will be manned by a backwaters resident. Glide past well-kept homes where you’ll often see women doing laundry and hear children cheekily calling out. The backwaters are a must-do in Kerala, and as such are quite popular with domestic and international travelers who sometimes have treats for the children they meet.

Kerala Houseboat

Explore the backwaters of Kerala from a houseboat. The merging of the freshwater rivers and the saltwater in the Arabian Sea creates lagoons and lakes along the coast that are home to unique marine biodiversity.

Paradesi Synagogue

Visit the historic Paradesi Synagogue, which was built in 1568, and stands in Cochin's old Jewish quarter, known as "Jew" Town. Cochin Jews are so few today that they cannot form a minyan – a quorum of 10 men – without Jews from outside Cochin, but services are still held here, making it the oldest functioning synagogue in the commonwealth of former British colonies. Antiquities that you will see inside include the Scrolls of the Law, several gold crowns received as gifts, many Belgian glass chandeliers and a brass-railed pulpit.

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